6

In his First Apology Justin Martyr writes:

We find it also predicted that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things, and that rather among the Gentiles [than among the Jews] men should believe in Him. And He was predicted before He appeared, first 5000 years before, and again 3000, then 2000, then 1000, and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose.

Please identify the predictions he refers to (prophet, document, passage):

  1. that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things

  2. that rather among the Gentiles [than among the Jews] men should believe in Him

  3. predicted 5000 years before He appeared

  4. predicted 3000 years before He appeared

  5. predicted 2000 years before He appeared

  6. predicted 1000 years before He appeared

  7. predicted 800 years before He appeared

If we don't know to which prophecies he refers, then how do we know he wasn't mistaken?

1
  • 1
    This may be difficult, as one of the other things Justin Martyr wrote is that the Jewish leaders had altered the Old Testament, obscuring some of the prophecies that most clearly pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.
    – Mason Wheeler
    Commented Jun 11, 2018 at 16:28

2 Answers 2

1

We find it also predicted that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things, and that rather among the Gentiles [than among the Jews] men should believe on Him. And He was predicted before He appeared, first 5000 years before, and again 3000, then 2000, then 1000, and yet again 800; for in the succession of generations prophets after prophets arose. Justin Martyr Chapter XXXI

It is fairly obvious that the 5000, 3000, etc are not specific dates, but are references to prophecies in that time area. So with this in mind, here are various references to those periods.

OP: that certain persons should be sent by Him into every nation to publish these things

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Mt 28:19

And the gospel must first be published among all nations. Mk 13:10

OP: that rather among the Gentiles [than among the Jews] men should believe in Him

Jew and Gentile is included in "all nations".

OP: predicted 5000 years before He appeared

This would reference times of Adam. So, in reference to Christ, the "her seed" as shown with Paul in Gal 3:29.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Gen 3:15

OP: predicted 3000 years before He appeared

This would reference times of Cain and Abel.

And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name Seth: For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.

The seed who is Christ Jesus continues.

OP: predicted 2000 years before He appeared

This references the times of Abraham and Isaac. Again, the seed.

OP: predicted 1000 years before He appeared

This references the times of King David.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. Isa 9:7

predicted 800 years before He appeared

This references Isaiah's prophecy.

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isa 7:14

So, to answer the OP, these are the historic prophecies about Messiah fulfilled in Christ Jesus who sent forth His apostles and disciples.

0

So it is a rather big question to cover what Justin explains, but if you keep reading in the First Apology most of the prophecies are listed, although not as clearly as one would hope.

Another important thing to note is that Justin Martyr may well have had a different timeline of Biblical events than we do today.

The first prophecy Justin mentions is in Genesis 49:10, where Jacob blesses his sons before his death. Jacob would have been one of the older mentions for Justin. From what we can gather today, Jacob would have been around 1600-1800 years before Jesus. More can be read in 1 Apology 32. In the same chapter of the Apology, Isaiah 11:1 is also mentioned as a fulfilled prophecy.

In 1 Apology 34 Micah 5:2 is referenced as another prophecy, which from what we know of today would have been 700 years before Jesus. Any of Isaiah's prophecies that Justin Martyr mentions would have been around this amount of time in the past as well. Isaiah 7:14 is referenced in 1 Apology 33.

In 1 Apology 35, Justin mentions the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, which would have been 500 years before Jesus.

There are many other prophecies Justin talks about in Against Trypho. In chapter 56 Justin argues that one of three men who visit Abraham in Genesis 18 is Jesus. From what we know today, Abraham probably comes closest to the 2000 years ago date Justin mentions. Against Trypho also shows how Justin believes the Jews changed the Septuagint. These are found in chapters 72 and 73, where he discusses Jeremiah 11:19 and Psalm 96 From chapter 75, Justin draws on Exodus 23:20-21 and Numbers 13:16 to demonstrate connections to Jesus. And then in chapter 76, Justin talks extensively about the identity of the son of man in the book of Daniel. In chapters 83 and 85, Psalm 110 and Psalm 24 are discussed, which would be attributed to David and lived around 1000 years before Jesus.

I know the above does not answer your question in as much detail as you requested, but it at least identifies the prophecies. It would be another interesting pursuit to figure out what Justin thought of Biblical history. But based on what we know today and the many prophecies Justin mentions, it seems unlikely that there are prophecies as old as 5000 and 3000 years old. However, Justin may have thought that Abraham or Jacob lived that long ago. I really have no idea what Justin would have believed about the Biblical timeline.

From the above mentioned prophecies, one can make arguments about if Justin was mistaken in his interpretations or not. So even with the dates being unclear to us, Justin was meticulous in quoting scripture and so we know which prophecies he meant to interpret as pointing to Jesus.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .